Atheltics

Mahlangu is on his way to becoming a household name.

He will compete in the T63 category since he was born with fibular hemimelia, a condition that causes the lower limb to under-develop, and he had both legs amputated at the knee in 2012.

At the age of 14, Ntando Mahlangu earned his first Paralympic Games medal.

Five years after that unforgettable day in Rio, the track and field athlete is confident in his ability to turn silver into gold when he prepares for his two events at the Tokyo Olympics – the 200m and long jump.

He will compete in the T63 category since he was born with fibular hemimelia, a condition that causes the lower limb to under-develop, and he had both legs amputated at the knee in 2012.

His first competition will be in the long jump (second session) on Saturday, followed by the 200m on September 3, both of which will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Although the South African prodigy spent the first ten years of his life in a wheelchair, he has made up for it by embracing athletics and its obstacles. His carbon fiber blades have become a natural extension of his personality, and his passion for racing affords him every opportunity to further his international profile.

He won gold in the 200m at the world championships two years ago, but it was last year when he was included in the Netflix documentary “Rising Phoenix,” which followed nine paralympians.

Before departing for Tokyo, he recalled, “It taught me a lot and showed me that I’m involved in a tremendous event.”

He looks up to South African veterans like Ernst van Dyk (48) and Tyrone Pillay (41) as one of the squad’s younger members, however he admits his early hero was Usain Bolt, a sprinter like him.

Mahlangu alternates his training days – three days sprinting, three days long jump – with only one rest day per week. He also has to deal with the pressures of school, where he is in his final year at Pretoria’s Afrikaans Horskool (Affies). He expresses hope that he will be able to study abroad next year.

But for the time being, his whole concentration is on the Games and his aspirations to land on the podium.

He stated, “I’m shooting for gold in both.” “I’ve done my homework, raced, and am injury-free. I’m giddy with anticipation.”

By fortuitous coincidence, the charity that gave him his first blades (Jumping Kids) in 2012 now benefits from him – he is an ambassador for them and helps encourage disabled youngsters.

In 2017, he served as one of the ambassadors for Cartoon Network’s anti-bullying program, “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.” Given that he was bullied as a child because of his disabilities, it was an apt partnership.

According to Leon Fleiser, South Africa’s chef de mission in Japan, “Ntando is a humble and nice person.” “Despite his celebrity, he is down to earth. I’m hoping he improves on his performance in Rio and continues to serve as a role model for young athletes.”

Mahlangu is uninterested in being judged against other Paralympic sprinters. He wants to carve out his own niche in the world and establish his own identity.

Given his current form and confidence, he stands a good chance of succeeding.

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